As a cold front pushes its way to spring heat all week over the southern states, it will help fuel strong to severe thunderstorms in the region.
The weekend is also set to start with measurable snowfall and a freezing winter mix that is expected to result in dangerous and widespread travel conditions on New Years Day from the Central Plains to the Great Lakes.
Another round of severe thunderstorms
On the warm side of the front, abundant humidity will help withstand storms capable of all severe weather hazards, including large hail, destructive winds, flooding, frequent lightning and tornadoes.
The areas most at risk on Saturday will be the Ark-La-Tex region across West Virginia.
The SPC says there will be an increased risk of severe thunderstorms from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Birmingham, Alabama, and all the way to Lexington, Ky., From Saturday to Sunday morning.
Flooding will also be a major concern, particularly in Kentucky, where clean-up is still underway after tornadoes swept through the western part of the state nearly three weeks ago.
Flood watches are in effect from eastern Oklahoma to West Virginia.
Widespread rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are expected from western Arkansas to western Pennsylvania. Kentucky could see the highest amounts, up to 4 inches throughout the weekend.
Since the ground is already saturated in Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee, flooding and flash floods are very possible, forecasters said.
New year, new weather (colder)
This could be the first major snowfall event of the season for the Midwest, with widespread snowfall amounts of 4 inches possible from eastern Kansas to Lake Michigan.
Thicker bands of snow could result in even higher amounts of 6 to 8 inches or more along the Iowa / Missouri border and northern Illinois, causing widespread travel disruption.
“On Saturday morning, mountain ranges such as the Cascades, Sawtooth, Wasatch and the Central and Southern Rockies can expect 1 to 2 feet of snow with totals exceeding 3 feet in the higher elevations of Utah and the Colorado, ”explained the WPC.
There is no snow without cold, and there will be a significant drop in temperatures this weekend.
Wind chill alerts are in effect in more than half a dozen northern plains states as sub-zero temperatures are expected, with possible wind chills up to 45 degrees below zero.
As the arctic air continues further south and east, it will cause temperatures to drop in some cities that have yet to feel the cold of winter.
On Saturday, Memphis will rise from a high of around 70 degrees with thunderstorms to a high in the mid-1930s on Sunday, with a few flurries eventually mixed.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area, which has set numerous high temperature records in the past two weeks, will also experience high temperatures on Saturday in the 70s, but on Sunday high temperatures will drop into the upper 30s.
Did you say cold? Why not play hockey? The Winter Classic outdoor game traditionally played on New Years Day will be in Minneapolis this year, and it will be chilly.
Saturday’s high temperature is only expected to hit -2 degrees, but will be even colder when the game begins at 6 p.m. (7 p.m. ET) with a downright frozen temperature of -5 and a wind chill hovering around -20 degrees.